McNulty wins the sprint of another successful breakaway and Armirail keeps the maglia rosa
Brandon McNulty takes the victory of the fifteenth stage of the Giro, on a day when the rain finally gave the riders a break. The UAE Team Emirates rider beat a great Healy and a relentless Frigo in another successful breakaway. For their part, the favorites gave us again an anodyne stage without outstanding movements that allowed Armirail to keep the maglia rosa.
McNulty beats Healy and Frigo in the final sprint and wins the stage
The stage that closed the second week of the race started again under the threat of rain, which finally took its particular day of rest. Ahead, 195 km of medium mountains and 3600 meters of elevation gain to reach the Lombardy town of Bergamo.
It didn't take long for the first movements to take place on another day that suggested that the winning horse could be in the breakaway. However, after several fruitless attempts, we had to wait a little longer for the breakaway to consolidate. 175 km to go.
Fifteen escapees opened a gap of about 4 and a half minutes after 10 kilometers. Between them and the peloton, Einer Rubio and Marcellusi were 2'20" behind in their fight to catch the leading group. The Colombian Movistar rider set too strong a pace for the Italian rider, who gave up after a few minutes.
Rubio achieved his goal with the help of Rojas and became the sixteenth member of the group that was opening the way with the peloton 5 minutes behind. A well-measured pace that allowed him to start with the breakaway on the hardest pass of the day, the first category Valico de Valcava.
Soon after came Marcellusi, at a time when the climb became harder with a great pace that forced a few to make more than a gesture of effort. An intensity that paid off when they left the pass behind: 7 minutes of advantage that could already be a good cushion for the stage to be decided between them.
The kilometers continued to pass and they reached another of the hot spots: the first of two close second-category passes that awaited the riders beyond the halfway point of the course.
Behind, Groupama, the team of the new pink jersey winner Almirail, was in the lead of the peloton, which pedaled to the rhythm of the general classification leader's teammates.
The climb left Healy as the strongest and he crowned in first position (he had already done so on the first pass). Moments earlier Dainese dropped off and was caught by the peloton. The descent left a crash in which McNulty, Velasco and Berwick had to fight back to rejoin the breakaway.
83 km to the finish. Second of the two consecutive passes and the chrono marked a difference of almost six minutes with the peloton. This time it was Rubio who came first.
The breakaway saw another of its members -Ballerini- say goodbye to the adventure. 14 riders who were to stabilize the income in the following kilometers in 6 minutes and a half. No news from the peloton, except for a crash by Sivakov.
It was Bonifazio's turn to shake up the race with an attack from the breakaway. Shortly after it was Rojas who pressed on with the aim of unhooking someone. Last climb of the day. Last test of fire that also served for the Jumbo to be placed at the front of the peloton. It seemed that they were preparing the ground for Roglic, but calm returned quickly.
35 km to the finish. The breakaway had lost its integrity: Frigo and McNulty caught and left Bonifazio behind; Healy and Rubio tried to do the same. The Irishman flexed his muscles and went solo to win another pass.
The overall favorites, meanwhile, climbed without attacking each other. McNulty chased Healy on the descent, while Frigo and Rubio lost steam. But the Italian had the courage and self-respect to reach the leading pair and form a trio from which the winner of the stage would emerge.
7 km to the finish. McNulty upped the pace with an attack that the other two were able to replicate.
The finish was closer. Frigo gave up a distance that seemed almost decisive. But Healy and McNulty kept an eye on each other and allowed the Italian to rejoin the field for a three-way battle at the finish.
The sprint was won by McNulty after overtaking Frigo, who finished third, and Healy, who came in second. The peloton was down to 7 minutes and there was a final move by Almeida who took a few seconds from Armirail, who kept the maglia rosa.
Stage 15 Classification
- Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) 5h13'39"
- Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost) +00"
- Marco Frigo (Israel-PremierTech) +00"
- Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) +1'51"
- Einer Rubio (Movistar Team) +1'51"
- Simone Velasco (Astana Qazaqstan Team) +2'26"
- Andrea Pasquaion (Bahrain-Victorious) +2'26"
- Laurens Huys (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) +3'10"
- Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa) +4'13"
- François Bidard (Cofidis) +4'13"
- Bruno Armirail (Groupama FDJ) 61h38’06’’
- Geraint Thomas (INEOS-Grenadiers) +01’08’’
- Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +01’10’’
- Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) +01’30’’
- Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM) +01’50’’
- Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Victorious) +02’36’’
- Lennard Kamna (Bora-Hansgrohe) +03’02’’
- Edward Dunbar (Team Jayco AlUla) +03'40"
- Thymen Arensman (INEOS-Grenadiers) +03’55’’
- Laurens De Plus (INEOS-Grendiers) +04’18’’